There’s no doubt about it – sales enablement was one of the hottest topics for B2B companies in 2013. Questions around increasing sales productivity and effectiveness dominated this year’s SiriusDecisions Summit, and those same questions continued over the months that followed.
Now with the year winding down and Q1 just around the corner, many organizations are well into their sales enablement planning processes for 2014. But for companies that have yet to develop their own sales enablement strategies, here are five basic questions to start with.
#1. What does sales enablement mean for your organization?
As SiriusDecision’s Jim Ninivaggi wrote not long after this year’s Summit event, “Sales enablement is still evolving, and the term means different things to different companies.” Because sales enablement still lacks a completely universal definition (the term ‘enablement’ doesn’t even exist in most dictionaries), the meaning of the expression remains up in the air for more than a few B2Bs.
The important part is figuring out what sales enablement means for you. With that in mind, here are some of the most popular explanations that, together, help tell the whole story.
#2. What are your sales enablement content needs?
One thing you’ll notice about most definitions of sales enablement is that the majority overlap in at least one key area: using effective content and communications to increase sales productivity. With that in mind, there are lots of different ways content can be used to support the process, as demonstrated by this infographic on the sales enablement content path.
#3. How will you align your messages to improve sales productivity?
Looking a bit deeper at the content question, it should be obvious that all the resources in the world won’t matter if they aren’t delivering messages that actually help reps sell. Earlier this year, sales and marketing coach Bob Apollo stressed the importance of keeping your marketing messages aligned with real sales conversations.
This naturally requires a healthy relationship between the sales and marketing sides of the business. As Bob explains, “If the organization sees marketing's role as ‘lead generation’, then they are likely to behave with a much narrower (and less effective) focus than if marketing's role is seen as ‘sales enablement’ or (even better) facilitating the buying process.”
#4. Who will be responsible for the sales enablement process?
Of course, once these questions are answered, someone still needs to be in charge of executing these strategies. While it’s ultimately everyone’s responsibility to put sales teams in a better position to sell, much of the content/communication side falls to marketing (though this doesn’t necessarily include the other core sales enablement component: training). Naturally, this can expand the role of marketing at some companies (here is a quick look at what marketers are saying about sales enablement).
Then again, other organizations have invested in creating full-blown sales enablement functions within their organizations. The important part, however, is having the right people responsible for directing the ship.
#5. How will you measure sales enablement success?
Finally, after all the pieces are in place, there needs to be a way to see how those efforts are paying off. The tricky part is that, as with defining sales enablement, measuring it varies from place to place as well, and the right metrics might not always be obvious. For example, revenue might seem like the easy answer, but it can actually be a poor (or at least lagging) indicator for sales enablement success.
This report on The Sales Enablement Function provides some different ideas on how sales enablement should be measured.
What do you think? Has your organization found answers to the questions above? What other sales enablement questions are on your mind? Sound off in the comments and let us know!